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Wine and Cheese Pairing – Perfect Matching

While living in France, I tasted my way through rural regions of the country, with many lunches and dinners consisting of baguette, cheese and wine (which I still think is the greatest meal you can have). When picking up ingredients in small villages and asking the locals for advice, every French person I spoke to would invariably tell me the same thing – pas de vin rouge.

No red wine! Isn’t that an essential part of the classic food and beverage pairing? After putting this theory to the test, though, I came to side with les français. Dry, tannic and spicy red wines are often too overbearing and compete with cheese – white wines are much better suited to the world of fromage, and enhance the complex flavours of both the wine and the cheese.

Having said this, I give the disclaimer that so often comes with wine – there are no firm rules. If you like a red wine with your cheese, by all means, have it. However, I encourage you to explore the world of white wine, even if you’re strictly a red wine drinker, if you are serving wine simply with cheese.

Here are some of my preferences and tips for matching wine with cheese:

Creamy, soft cheese

  • Creamy, savoury cheeses like camembert, brie and even fresh goat cheeses call for something acidic, bright and even slightly sweet, like an off-dry Riesling or something sparkling like Crémant; we know acidity helps cut through fat, so these wines are great with rich, creamy cheese.

Funky cheese

  • I’m talking blue cheese, gruyère or stinky washed-rind cheeses; sweet wines such as Sauternes or Port (yes this is red, but as a dessert wine it works – blue cheese and port is a classic for a reason) will bring balance to all all of that funky flavour.

Hard cheese

  • Rich white wines like Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc complement mild cheddars and hard sheep milk cheeses; if the cheese has a bit of age under its belt and a more complex nutty flavour, a Chardonnay can also be quite good.

When in doubt…

  • “If it grows together, it goes together” –  this isn’t an adage to live by, but it’s useful advice when you’re unsure about matching cheese and wine; I recommend trying a glass of Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna with some Parmigiano Reggiano, which are all grown and produced in the same region of Italy, or some intense Délice de Bourgogne with a white Burgundy – you’ll see why this makes sense upon first bite!

For more wine and food pairing ideas, check out all of our tips, suggestions and ideas here.

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Jill Haapaniemi

Jill Haapaniemi

Jill is a lover of all things food and wine. As a food blogger and recipe developer, she is passionate about sharing meals with others, never without a bottle of something to enhance the experience. She spends her free time at her partner’s family winery just outside of Melbourne, and can usually be found drinking Oregon Pinot, wines from the Rhône Valley or Victorian Shiraz.
Jill Haapaniemi

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